The claim: Trump banned welfare for some immigrants, which will save $57.4 billion a year
President Donald Trump's agenda has fueled a stream of immigration-related misinformation.
A claim that Trump banned welfare for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, which will save $57.4 billion per year, has circulated on Facebook and resurfaced in late May. But this claim is false for a couple of reasons.
First, Trump didn’t ban welfare for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Undocumented immigrants have been ineligible for most federal programs since before Trump took office.
Second, the “$57.4 billion” figure comes from a 2017 study that measured the economic cost of general public services at the state and local level of immigrants who came to the country both legally and illegally and their children. So this measurement includes all immigrants, not just those here illegally, as the Facebook post claims. Researchers attributed most of the $57.4 billion to education, PolitiFact reported.
Examining '$57.4 billion'
The National Academies published in 2017 a 618-page report by the Committee of National Statistics that details the economic impact of immigration in the United States.
The report averaged data from 2011-13 and concluded that first-generation immigrants (foreign-born residents) and their dependents (children) cost state and local governments $57.4 billion, with most of the expense going to education.
But researchers relied on data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, which according to the professor who chaired the panel of researchers, barred them from differentiating between types of immigration, PolitiFact reported. So their estimate includes immigrants who came to the country legally and illegally. That's not what the Facebook user claimed.
The report noted “the second and third-plus generation individuals (and their children) create benefits of $30.5 billion and $223.8 billion. … Note that the surplus revenues raised amount to $197 billion, which equals the surplus across all 50 states. ... By the second generation, immigrants are a net win for the states as a whole, given that they have fewer children on average than first generation units and are contributing in revenues more than they cost in expenditures.”
Some immigrants have been ineligible for most social services
Congress has long restricted immigrants’ access to public benefits. A federal law in 1882 established that immigration officials should deny entry to any person likely to become a "public charge."
That attitude prevails.
“Undocumented immigrants, including DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) holders, are ineligible to receive most federal public benefits, including means-tested benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, sometimes referred to as food stamps), regular Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)," the National Immigrant Forum, a nonprofit that advocates for immigration reform, explains on its website. "Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”
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